Tax Time Guide: Tax help is just a click away on IRS.gov
The Internal Revenue Service reported that there were more than 585 million visits to IRS.gov by taxpayers finding answers to tax questions, e-filing tax returns and checking on their tax refunds in 2018. This year, visits are 11 percent higher than the same time last year.
This news release is part of a series called the Tax Time Guide, a resource to help taxpayers file an accurate tax return. Additional help is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, and the tax reform information page.
The IRS expects millions of taxpayers to take advantage of the easy-to-use tools available 24 hours a day on IRS.gov. Research is easier with tools like the Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA), a tax law resource that works using a series of questions and provides responses. There is also a page for Frequently Asked Questions and an IRS Tax Map that allows searches by topic or keyword for single-point access to tax law.
Online account tool
From the IRS.gov homepage, taxpayers can use the View Your Account tool to see their tax account. Information such as a payoff amount, the balance for each tax year for which they owe, up to 24 months of their payment history and key information from their current tax year return as originally filed.
‘Where’s My Refund?’
Taxpayers can easily find the most up-to-date information about their tax refund using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov and on the official IRS mobile app, IRS2Go. Within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an e-filed return or four weeks after a paper return is mailed, taxpayers can start checking on the status of their refund.
Finding free tax return preparation
Low- and moderate-income taxpayers as well as those age 60 and above can find the nearest community-based site staffed by IRS trained and certified volunteers using the VITA/TCE Site Locator. Eligible taxpayers can look for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (VITA/TCE) program sites where they can get their tax returns prepared and filed without charge.
Free DIY tax preparation
The IRS Free File program, available only through IRS.gov, offers 70 percent of all taxpayers the choice of 12 brand-name tax preparation software packages to use at no cost. The software does all the work of finding deductions, credits and exemptions for which the taxpayer qualifies. It is free for those who earned $66,000 or less in 2018. Some of the Free File packages also offer free state tax returns.
Taxpayers who earned more than $66,000 in 2018 and are comfortable preparing their own taxes can use Free File Fillable Forms. This electronic version of paper IRS tax forms is also used to file tax returns online.
Finding a tax professional
The taxpayer is responsible for the accuracy of their tax return and should choose their tax professional carefully. Tax return preparers have differing levels of skills, education and expertise. There is a searchable directory on IRS.gov to help taxpayers find a tax professional in their area. The list can be sorted by credentials and qualifications.
Get a tax return transcript
A Tax Return Transcript shows most line items from an original tax return, along with any forms and schedules, but not changes made after it was filed. The Get Transcript tool is free and available on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can view, print or download their tax transcripts after the IRS has processed the return. The IRS redesigned tax transcripts to partially mask all personally identifiable information for any person or entity on the 1040-series tax return. All financial entries remain fully visible.
How to make a tax payment
Taxpayers should visit the “Pay” tab on IRS.gov to see their payment options. Most tax software products give taxpayers various payment options, including the option to withdraw the funds from a bank account. These include:
- IRS Direct Pay offers taxpayers a free, fast, secure and easy way to make an electronic payment from their bank account to the U.S. Treasury.
- Use an approved payment processor to pay by credit or debit card for a fee.
- Mail checks or money orders made out to the U.S. Treasury.
- Make monthly or quarterly tax payments using IRS Direct Pay or through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System.
Can’t pay a tax bill?
Everyone should file their 2018 tax return by the tax filing deadline regardless of whether or not they can pay in full. Taxpayers who can’t pay all their taxes have options including:
- Online Payment Agreement — Individuals who owe $50,000 or less in combined income tax, penalties and interest and businesses that owe $25,000 or less in payroll tax and have filed all tax returns may qualify for an Online Payment Agreement. Most taxpayers qualify for this option and an agreement can usually be set up on IRS.gov in a matter of minutes.
- Installment Agreement — Installment agreements are paid by direct deposit from a bank account or a payroll deduction.
- Delaying Collection — If the IRS determines a taxpayer is unable to pay, it may delay collection until the taxpayer’s financial condition improves.
- Offer in Compromise (OIC) — Taxpayers who qualify enter into an agreement with the IRS that settles their tax liability for less than the full amount owed.
Status of an amended tax return
Taxpayers can check on their IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, using the “Where’s My Amended Return?” tool. Allow three weeks before checking on the initial status of an amended return and up to 16 weeks for processing.
Face-to-face IRS help
Nearly every tax issue can be resolved online or by phone, but some taxpayers still need face-to-face help from the IRS. All IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) provide service by appointment. To find the closest IRS TAC, enter a five-digit ZIP Code into the TAC Office Locator tool on IRS.gov. To schedule an appointment, call 844-545-5640. Taxpayers need valid photo identification and a taxpayer identification number, such as a Social Security number, to receive services.
Due to tax reform, many employees’ withholding decreased in early 2018, giving them more money in their paychecks. Since then, the IRS has been urging employees to perform a Paycheck Checkup using the Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. A Paycheck Checkup can help taxpayers see if they’re having their employer withhold the right amount of tax from their paychecks. Even taxpayers who changed their 2018 withholding should recheck their withholding now. A mid-year withholding change in 2018 may have a different full-year impact in 2019.
Taxpayers can find answers to questions, forms and instructions and easy-to-use tools online at IRS.gov. They can use these resources to get help when it’s needed from the convenience of their home or office.